PHOENIX thrived outside its comfort zone as it outlasted NLEX, 95-91, in overtime to stay firmly in the playoff hunt in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The high-octane Fuel Masters turned to Eugene Phelps in the extra session as they proved they can win in a low-scoring, grind-out battle that heated up down the stretch due to the officiating.
Phelps scored all but three of the Fuel Masters’ 11 points in overtime as the prolific import recovered from a slow start to finish with a monster effort of 29 points and 26 boards.
The Fuel Masters thus won for the third time in four games to tie the Road Warriors with a 3-4 win-loss record.
“We played their game and we fell into that trap, but good thing, we got something going in the third quarter and it helped us in the endgame,” Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia said.
“You have to earn every victory in this league,” the rookie coach added. “I thank the guys for not giving up.”
The Fuel Masters had a chance to win it in regulation as Cyrus Baguio knocked down a three-pointer and a free-throw that put his team up by two points with 6.8 seconds left, but saw Kevin Alas score on a coast-to-coast layup to drag the game into overtime.
Alas, however, was held scoreless in the extra session after scoring 16 as the sophomore playmaker also committed a crucial loose ball foul on Mark Borboran that hastened the Road Warriors’ downfall.
Bill Walker led NLEX with 23 points, but missed 15 of his 23 shots while also committing a crucial offensive foul in regulation that prevented them from taking the victory.
PHOENIX 95 –Phelps 29, Baguio 10, Buenafe 9, W.Wilson 9, Urbiztondo 9, Enciso 5, Borboran 5, Cruz 5, Miranda 4, Lanete 4, Lee 2, Caperal 2, Torres 0, Pennisi 0
NLEX 91 – Walker 23, Alas 16, Taulava 12, Baracael 11, J. Villanueva 7, Monfort 6, E. Villanueva 5, Anthony 4, Lanete 3, Khobuntin 2, Akl 2
Quarterscores: 11-16, 33-39, 60-64, 84-84, 95-91